Posts Tagged ‘Department of Agriculture’

RP climate change grant from US Pres Obama

October 12, 2009

By Melody M. Aguiba

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is pursuing a $120 million grant for the acquisition of remote sensing and agricultural crop testing facilities under a climate change program of United States Pres. Barack Obama.


Farming Information Technology

September 22, 2009

Farming Information Technology

A new stage of inter-connectivity is enabling farmers linked with the Community Participatory Action Research (CPAR) to make wiser decisions in farming from information processed by a locally-developed software.

Higher yield in rice and corn and greater productivity from other crops, livestock, and fisheries are being experienced by farmers under the CPAR program of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) as they are now guided by a system for data interpretation.

The system called ePinoy Farm Resource Management System (EFRMS), a platform for farm management developed by Filipino firm Optiserve Technologies Inc. (OTI), not only records yields of farmers in rice, for instance.

It also helps farmers interpret data and obtain a more accurate idea why he or other farmers are getting a higher yield based on abidance with step-by-step “milestones” or prescribed technology process given by DA’s technology experts.

Cheryl Marie Natividad, OTI president, said the EFRMS is a technology in agriculture that has become a breakthrough in helping farmers better manage their farms. Farmers are now advancing into processing or business integration, not merely engaged in raw food production, through this information help.

“DA found out that there should be a concept of graduating a farmer from one stage to another so that at the end of the day, farmers become more productive. You teach them the value of managing for efficiency. You provide them information at every stage of the process if you want them to move into agribusiness,” said Natividad.

The EFRMS involves DA’s provision for farmers’ use of computers located at BAR’s 16 regional centers for research and development (R&D) called Integrated Agricultural Research Centers (IARCS) found all over the country.

Farmers have to be part of an organized group to be able to join the program. Once they are part of an organized group, they can receive an access card, similar to an internet dial-up card, from the government through which they can access DA’s data base that are available too through the internet.

“We only give access cards to organized group of farmers because we have observed that programs become sustainable when it involves an organized group,” said BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar.

Natividad said OTI has first designed EFRMS for the Coconut Industry Investment Fund Oil Milling Group (CIIF-OMG) for coconut farmers’ direct copra marketing program.

The objective of the program was to monitor coconut oil prices traded at the Chicago Board of Trade at Rotterdam trading center in Netherlands and convert this traded price into the local copra price and currency. This way, farmers have an up-to-date reference on how much coconut oil importers are buying their goods.

“This eliminates traders (middlemen) who can manipulate prices if farmers don’t have access to price in the international market. It strengthens the capability of organized groups at grassroots level,” said Natividad.

In rice, the EFRMS enables farmers to evaluate the importance of certain factors like soil analysis, soil condition, irrigation, and weather pattern in order to raise their yield.

“You have to correlate data. You’re putting a system relevant to them as you’re helping them improve their way of doing things in the past,” she said.

Eventually, the aim of EFRMS is also to encourage farmers to engage in an integrated farming system where they will not only have rice or only corn in their farm. But they should also engage in livestock or fisheries in order to have many income streams. They can intercrop coconut with other plants like corn or cocoa.

“We want them to engage in diversified farming because the reason why farmers are poor is because they only grow a single crop. Farmers should not be dependent only on a single crop,” said Eleazar

Farmers also migrate to becoming processors of raw agricultural products or providers of post harvest facilities like dryers and storage areas.

BAR is only spending around P4 million for this nationwide technology distribution system. But it is making substantial returns as evidenced by feedback from Region 1 farmers where the project has been piloted.

The program’s promotion of diversified farming—the integration in rice farms of livestock or aquaculture farming or interplanting of coconut with other crops—has generated added value to poor farmers’ income.

Lifestyle:Dr. Virginia A. Teodosio

September 22, 2009
Dr. Virginia A. Teodosio

Democratic, socialist, economist

An economist, Dr.Virginia A. Teodosio’s major missions is to make goods available for most people at cheaper costs.

She founded the housing cooperative for faculty members at the University of the Philippines precisely for this .

“Our houses are beautiful. If a large real estate developer built these, they could have cost P2 million. But it’s only P500,000 with us, a big difference.”

Her passion is to encourage more people in what she calls a cooperative “movement” having once been Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) administrator from 2000 to 2005.

If only there are more cooperatives in the country, then profits can be shared by more people.

“Imagine all these Filipinos shopping at SM malls. If there’s a cooperative, then we’ll get rebates on our purchases. The more we patronize, the more we get money. But not here—the surplus, the profit goes to more malls of Henry Sy. The profit is unimaginable.”

While having spent her doctorate on political economy at the University of Sydney, her mind is really into the grassroots setting.

Numerous focused group discussions (FGDs), a research methodology, involving 99 cooperative leader management members under a 2006-2007 project funded by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) enabled her to further immerse herself in rural community problems.

The work on cooperatives as means to poverty reduction is really what she came back to the Philippines for.

“I studied political economy abroad, but when I was there I thought, ‘What would I do here?’ Life is short. That’s why I had to come home to serve because I learned a lot from my Oxford and Cambridge professors.”

The truth is she really wonders if theories in Economics, which she took as an undergraduate course, do have applications in real life.

“I can’t understand, (academic theories in) Economics seem to be out of context,” she said. “We listen to graduates abroad of say Princeton who do not really have experience working with the masses.”

Her idea on her work on cooperatives is to involve in an authentic economic reform people who may have been ignored in the society like insurgents. Potential industrial crops that insurgent can plant are jatropha and malunggay.

A rebel group cooperative linked with the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) that she’s advising is now hoping to run a major food trading center in the country in order to help benefit the really poor.

Another group she’s working with are indigenous tribes.

“There’s a (P5 billion) jatropha project in Palawan that has been signed with tribes (as beneficiaries).

Here are other notes.

Top dream:

Put up a Music Academy. I want children to be exposed to music. I want to choose areas where the children are not in school. It will give jobs to their parents, and children will be into distance learning.

Role as a funder:

I’m coming from a (perspective) on social capital. I have no money, but the trust, the respect, and the relationships (through which) I bring the capital (are what’s important).

Ideal government:

We need to partner with the masses (in democratic socialism). The Philippines is an emerging democratic socialist. If we partner with rebels in Mindanao, they will not bomb the trains. The true democracy is developed with the masses through cooperatives. Read about the history of egalitarian societies. (Progressive countries like) Switzerland, Norway, Denmark (worked in this premise of upholding) welfare of the community (through cooperatives). The culture of democracy can be sustained through the cooperative movement. (This jibes with charter change or) a decentralized (federalist government.)



Cooperatives as venture capitalists

September 22, 2009

Cooperatives as venture capitalists

Ever heard of a cooperative that finances startup technologies?

Maybe not, at least in the PHilippines. But this is how Dr. Virginia A. Teodosio described cooperatives to be capable of doing given opportunities to serve its members in rural areas.

Among what they are eyeing to finance now are telemedicine and perhaps solar energy and malunggay biodiesel production.

“My plan is to connect Ateneo’s telemedicine, solar and water projects with the cooperative movement because coops can be investors, said Teodosio, a professor at the University of the Philippines-School of Labor and Industrial Relations (UP-Solair).

“Cooperative financing can work in biotech. These women (cooperative) leaders welcome telemedicine because the cooperative movement is for the community. In Tabuk (Kalinga), they have many medical missions, so (the need for) telemedicine.”

What may be surprising, although this claim may have its own proof, is cooperatives have lots of disposable money to finance technology incubation.

“I’m energized because I’ve seen (the value of these cooperatives). That’s worth half a trillion. You just have to guide them. You have to capture their imagination,” she said.

One of Teodosio’s plans is to link telemedicine development at Ateneo’s Innovation Center led by Dr. Gregory L. Tangonan with cooperatives in Tabuk in Kalinga, in Batangas or in Quezon and with hospital cooperatives owned by doctors and nurses.

“Our doctors won’t have to leave the country. The hospital is owned by them.”

These cooperative leaders, traditionally leaders of their own barangays, are also interested in propagating malunggay for its application as a food nutrition enhancer and as a pharmaceutical product.

They may work too with Secura International which is pushing for a P1 billion malunggay biodiesel facility.

Cooperatives have a potential for financing technology at startup stage as they have the means to accumulate huge funds through several means.

“Collective action through cooperatives is one of the most important and yet least recognized dimensions of Philippine development. Overlooking their achievement reflects a failure to interrelate concepts of social capital and institutional development,” according to Teodosio.

Cooperatives gain capital by requiring members to learn first how to save before they are even allowed to borrow.

Cooperatives also earn from interest on loans as much as banks do. They can get funding from big banks like Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP). They retail these funds to members or to community businesses.

Globally, the largest 300 cooperatives, believed to be part of the International Cooperative Alliance, recorded a $1 trillion revenue as of 2004, according to a Social Weather Station (SWS) publication of Teodosio.

She co-wrote this SWS book with Linda Luz Guerrero and Jeanette Ureta.

In the Philippines, cooperatives totaled to 30,000, according to the Cooperative Development Authority’s (CDA) 2004 annual report.

However, only a total of 8,000 cooperatives have been monitored for their financial record. Share capital paid by members totaled to P3.3 billion while their savings was at P6.7 billion; and loans, P297.8 million.

While there are some mass-based organizations that lobby for policy reforms with regard to how economic progress can be achieved, it is important to determine whose voice really counts, Teodosio said.

And this voice must be those who know the plight of the least economically privileged economically in the society who have at the same time shown proof on how upliftment of the poor is possible.

That has been demonstrated by cooperatives which have been effecting pockets of development in rural areas.

An SWS survey indicated that 63% of 1,000 cooperative members are in rural areas, and 74% belong to the D socio-economic class.

Cooperatives help small entrepreneurs in the provinces by lending to them at an interest rate lower than the interest rate they could get from loansharks such as the “Bumbays” that are lending at usurious “five-six” terms.

“Cooperatives don’t impose charges similar to bank charges. We help small entrepreneurs. We lend for farmers’ purchase of fertilizers and for their daily needs,” said Florence Pagcayan of the Tabuk Multi Purpose Cooperative Inc. (TAMPCO) in Tabuk, Kalinga.

Interest is 12-15% including service charges for a salary loan which can be reasonable enough as rural banks charge as much as 24% interest. Terms are four to five months just like a crop loan for rice and corn, 10 months, and 24 months.

Perhaps LBP can lend at a lower interest rate, but the charges too are significantly high if one is delayed in paying. But of course LBP also lends through its conduit cooperatives who pass on LBP’s rate at an additional spread.

At certain circumstances, TAMPCO, which started in 1983, lends to members in good standing without interest, but that is also because members are required to save in the cooperative fund first even before borrowing.

If one has a P60,000 deposit, he can borrow up to four times this deposit.

Pagcayan at one time has been able to borrow P150,000. Members at TAMPCO that have saved big enough can borrow as much as P1 to P2 million for as long a they have a collateral such as a land title.

One can borrow for his daily needs, for a business capital, or for his child’s education.

TAMPCO has been registering around P20 million income per year and regularly declares dividends to members. A members’ dividend income comes from his earnings from his share capital, 40%, while 60% comes from the cooperatives’ earnings from operations (lending and investments).

At a certain year, Pagcayan, who had once established a furniture and bakery business, earned P15,000 in dividend income.

Members also get the benefit of a mortuary aid that can amount to P55,000, hospitalization aid which can be claimed by up to three times a year, a medical consultation aid, and an educational loan of up to P4,000 per semester.

Salary loan of employee-members can amount to five times of one’s monthly wage.

TAMPCO has become profitable enough to build its own 60-person capacity hotel which is used as a seminar site for government clients such as the Department of Agriculture.

At the Infanta Credit and Development Cooperative (ICDC), a member and officer, Wilma Coronacion, has been able to borrow up to P300,000 to P400,000.

But cooperatives do get vulnerable to financial failures if managing funds err. In its effort once to help the poor, promote membership, and raise earnings, ICDC lost from its lending to individuals who never paid.

“We gave them debts even if they never had a share capital. We failed in not having investigated them,” said Coronacion.

But ICDC also learned its lessons from there and implemented reforms in lending.

Cooperatives have advantages over other lending institutions particularly as it does not pay for withholding tax, according to a cooperative member. It can raise funds from other institutions such as from NATCO (National Confederation of Cooperatives).

ICDC now owns two buildings one of which houses its office. It also owns a warehouse, a water purifying business, and a drug store. It had an original capital from a few members’ share of P1,116 when it was founded in 1967. It now has P78 million in asset.

The cooperative system works in the country because of the Filipino culture on “bayanihan,” the concept of helping at all costs a neighbor in the community who is in need.

Cooperatives have made a positive impact all over the world for the past 200 years, Teodosio said. This is specially true in countries where governments have subsidized it.

Consumer cooperatives in West Germany and Japan have been instruments of wealth reform there by the influential. New Zealand’s dairy farmers, 96% of whom are cooperative members, make up the sixth largest dairy-producing country in the world.

Agriculture has seen progress through cooperatives among coffee farmers in Africa, dairy farmers in India, and beef producers in Argentina and Brazil. In Italy, a federation of cooperatives, Emilia Romagna, has 8,000 primary cooperatives engaged in food retail and is present in 155 centers with six million members.

Unlike in a corporate environment where majority of the corporate stock is owned by a family, a cooperative is member-owned.

“It’s only through cooperatives that you can narrow the gap between the rich and the poor– spread the wealth. This is not just simply wealth creation. Cooperatives are there to serve the people, not just to make money. They need the surplus, but they will never use it just to do business but do what’s good for the community,” she said.

Teodosio herself founded the University of the Philippines housing cooperative which has been able to build teachers’ houses at 30 % cheaper cost. Building cooperatives can also be economically beneficial for other professions.

“The Associated Press is a cooperative. The National Times of Thailand is a cooperative. Ninety-nine percent of farmers in Japan are cooperative members. In the past, no bank went to the countryside. There were only savings and credit cooperatives. ”

Despite its advantages and its presence in the rural areas where it could make the most help on poverty reduction, cooperatives in the Philippines do have to be improved.

“A cooperative must apply systems of innovation, create its own knowledge base, exploit business opportunities and learn to use networks of interconnected instiutitons,” said the SWS report.

The should provide more people with more training on cooperativism and should advance this learning in formal school curriculum from grade school to college.

“CDA should not only require reports but should provide trading and technical assistance such as accounting.

The government should build on the strengths inherent in cooperatives.

These are cooperatives’ ability to upholding people’s right to participate and converting economic activities into forms of social ownership.

RP has a Niche in Producing Natural Ingredients

September 17, 2009


RP has a Niche in Producing Natural Ingredients 


The Philippines should ban the export of its raw native herbs if it has to maximize the economic benefits from these indigenous plants for pharmaceutical and other value-added uses.

Local producers of semi-processed indigenous plants are seeking legislation prohibiting the export of inputs for natural ingredients which are now being exploited by foreign processors, importing them from the Philippines at their very raw form.

The call for this legal support has started as the Department of Agriculture (DA) has opened a facility for the extraction of active ingredients used in pharmaceutical goods.

Danilo Manayaga, chairman of Phytophils, the first locator at DA’s Biotechnology Business Incubation Facility (BBIF), said that this legislation will compel foreign companies to invest in manufacturing plants here.

It will generate jobs and accumulate added-value through processing these raw materials for export, unlike if the government merely allows export of these raw materials.

“We export banaba leaves to Japan at only P20 per kilo. But a bottle of a 30-capsule (medicine with corosolic acid derived from banaba leaves) is sold in the US at $120, said Manayaga.

“(Public-private sector biotechnology network) BIONET wants a stop on the export of our raw materials like leaves, barks, and roots. This way we can develop the local industry and produce the semi-processed goods that foreign companies need.”

For every 12 kilos of banaba leaves, one gram of the active ingredient corosolic acid (used in the treatment of diabetes, kidney-related diseases, and as anti-obesity drug) is produced. From one gram of corosolic acid, 167 capsules can be produced at six milligrams per capsule.

Japan has been known globally for processing banaba for medical uses. Ironically, Japan does not grow banaba. It simply imports the raw materials from the Philippines.

“We have the best banaba in the world in Sierra Madre (mountains) and Arayat (where corosolic acid content is higher),” he said.

Unfortunately, it is Japan that has sought patent protection for its banaba technology.

Maoi Arroyo, Hybridigm Consulting president, said. The country should maximize its opportunities in natural ingredients since it is extremely blessed with rich biodiversity.

“This is one niche the Philippines can participate in the global market,” she said. Phytophils will also be producing the active ingredient i-camphor from sambong which is known for curing kidney stones or as diuretic in hypertension.

Ari Halos, Phytophils president, said the extraction of the higher value-added active ingredients also gives better export chances for sambong since export to the US is easier in semi-processed form. The export of dried, crushed leaves, turned into powder form has earlier caused phytosanitary questions on certain locally-produced drugs.

But extracting the active ingredient first before shipping them out will cancel out quarantine problems.

Aside from banaba and sambong which Filipino technologists want to commercially tap, malunggay is another indigenous plant that may become a source of a thriving livelihood for more, farmers. With its rich numerous nutrient benefits, it can have expansive applications. Research and development on it includes use for biofuel, feed, food preparation, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and nutraceuticals.

The natives of Porac, Pampanga and of Negros Occidental have started cultivating their lands for malunggay with a renewed hope of a better life.

The trait of malunggay, also moringa or kalamunggay in Visayas, is highlighted by its nutrient content unmatched by other popular crops. This is why it is being acknowledged as a “miracle vegetable.”

On a gram for gram comparison, malunggay leaves contain seven times the Vitamin C in orange, four times the calcium and two times the protein in milk, four times the Vitamin A in carrots, and three times the potassium in bananas.

If some children or even adults hate the taste of vegetables, food processors found a way to process malunggay to make it likeable for food. Dried in a dehydrator and crushed it in a hammer mill, it is prepared as mix for processed foods (noodles, pasta, tea) ready for marketing.

Here it becomes a food fortifier too.

I n Valencia, Negros Occidental, Florentino Vicuna, Contract Growers Association president, has started planting malunggay.

He looks forward to expanding this to supply a processing plant that may have a three metric ton- (MT) capacity per day.

Valencia’s initial try of shipping three MT of malunggay leaves to Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental, where the dehydration plant of proponent Secura International is, has apparently failed.

Shipping the leaves to Mindanao takes eight hours from Dumaguete, rendering the materials perishing upon arrival.

But Vicuna doesn’t lose hope on the business because of its potential for creating numerous multiplier effect.

“We hope the government can help us finance a plant costing maybe P3 or P4 million. Planting malunggay is labor-intensive. It will give jobs to a lot of people,” he said. Labor need in tilling one hectare may be 15 people who will plant, fertilize, and harvest.

Valencia is convinced the technology on powdering malunggay is viable because the same process is done in a nearby plant that dehydrates okra, eggplant, and tomato. A shift in the design of shelves though is needed for using this plant for malunggay.

Alice Ilaga, DA biotechnology director, said Valencia is awaiting for the declaration of an agricultural zone in the province to allow for massive malunggay province.

Government’s “Pinoy Biotek Program” (PBP) has all-encompassing aims of supplementing nutrition of the poor, creating jobs, and stirring up the economy through export.

Its partners are DA’s regional field units, state colleges and universities, local governments, and DA agencies like Bureau of Plant Industry and the National Agribusiness Corp.

Producing malunggay extracts will solve many health problems like Vitamin A Deficiency Disorder, Iron Deficiency Anemia, and Iodine Deficiency Disorder. It will specially benefit children and women of reproductive age.

Malunggay is an ideal crop as it grows in marginal and sloping land and is grown easily by planting cuttings or seeds.

BIONET’s targeted areas for malunggay include La Union, Tarlac, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Laguna, Quezon, Negros Oriental, Cordillera Administrative Region, Caraga (Butuan, Agusan provinces) and the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao.

Each BIONET center will have its own seed production area to make its operations independent.

For seed production, a center is foreseen to enjoy a net operating income of P246,720 on the first year and P258,982 yearly on the second and the third.

Previous estimates showed income will come from production of 1,875 kilos of malunggay seeds per hectare valued at P300 per kilo at farm-gate.

The PBP also aims to extensively propagate other plants unique to the Philippines where it can have a global niche. In Laguna, eyed to be grown in Sta. Cruz is banaba intercropped with luyang dilaw on 500 to 1,000 hectares.

In Magsaysay, it will be 200 hectares of land for banaba. San Jose will plant 100 hectares of land for anato through the municipal government and 200 hectares of banaba through Lingap Maralita.

A total of 1,000 hectares is being committed for banaba and banana in Sablayan, Laguna by Mayor Godofredo Mintu.

Other planting programs in Laguna the banaba-banana intercropping areas in Calintaan, 100 hectares; luya and ubi in Abra de Ilog by the Sun Vadeco Farmers Cooperative; ubi and luyang dilay through the Department of Science and Technology in Mamburao, 500 hectares; and banaba intercropped with ginger.

Abaca is also a PBP crop to be planted in Lanao province.

Supporting BIONET Lanao are the Southern Philippines Development Authority, National Anti Poverty Commission, and the Fiber Industry Development Authority which will provide the abaca seedlings.

Atsuwete, seeds used for dyeing and food coloring, is another crop that is contemplated to be planted in Laguna. A 32-hectare area is targeted by allocating two hectares from each Laguna town. Expected income from 300 trees per hectare is P422,000 a year. It is also eyed to be grown in Quezon on 750 hectares.

The five municipalities of Quezon‘s District 2 are committing to devote 17 hectares of land for malunggay and 10 hectares for atsuwete.

Another crop, papaya, will be turned into papain, as its latex has vast markets in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry. The Northern Mindanao Institute for Science and Technology is spearheading papaya planting in the Caraga Region in order to supply papain to Belgian firm Enzybel.

The Philippines has to hurdle many obstacles if it has to emerge as a leader in a natural ingredients industry.

Karen Hipol, Hybridigm chief operating officer, said focus on developing the industry should be on technologies that have existing scientific and clinical data, those with unserved or underserved markets, and those with sustainable supply chain.

Local companies should capture markets worldwide for addressing top health concerns including cardio-vascular disease which, according to the International Food Information Council, has a $5.5 billion market; obesity, $85 billion; and diabetes, $11.6 billion.

Among Hipol is recommendations for regulation that will ensure market acceptance of Philippine products are protection of consumers amid promotion of innovativeness, adoption of Good Agricultural Practice, Good Collection Practice, Good Laboratory Practice, Good Manufacturing Practice, and product labeling.

Organic Pinoy Chicken a Backyard Livelihood Source

September 17, 2009
Organic Pinoy Chicken a Backyard Livelihood Source

An organic “Pinoy” chicken can become a livelihood source for rural folks who wish to make money out of their own backyards.

A farm in Batangas, owned by agribusiness consultant and farm entrepreneur Pablito Villegas, is now producing day-old chicks (DOC) from Grimaud Freres breeds from France and is selling these to free range chicken growers.

But raising free range chicken offers more prospects than just to entrepreneurs and gourmets.

It is opening up opportunities for government executives and policy-makers to look into a highly potential livelihood program for backyard growers specially when a Pinoy organic chicken will have been developed.

Dr. Erwin Joseph S. Cruz, Grimaud Freres country representative, said the breeding of a Pinoy organic chicken is possible. “We can create a ‘Pinoy Chicken’ by importing breeders and mixing these with native breeds,” he said.

“And let the poor farmers feed the rich.” Such breed should be a superior one.

It can even be known as Climate Change-adaptable breeds as Grimaud Freres chickens can be adaptable to weather that is four to five percent hotter.

These chicken breeds have been developed extensively by the French government and private farms. That’s why what came out were breeds that have good genetics, good manageability, and good nutrition absorption.

Grimaud Freres chickens are nutritionally healthy chickens. They have 45% less fat compared to commercial broilers. They find markets in discriminating shops like Rustan’s and Pamora’s niche distribution channels.

They say it clicks because the taste is distinctively palatable. They are marketed well at a higher price of maybe P230 per kilo, giving farmers better income opportunities. Yet, that is still a competitive price, nearly comparable with native chicken whose price ranges from P180 to P250 per kilo.

But it takes shorter time to grow it compared to native chicken’s six to eight months to reach one kilo. At 55 days, these chickens can grow to 1.5 to 1.6 kilos.

Free range chickens can be more cost-effectively grown in backyards since they can survive well in this environment even if they are not given the same antibiotics as those injected in white broilers.

They are known for their hardiness, ranging ability (the whites do not range), and ability to digest vegetation (legumes, herbs, and even napier grass eaten by goats).

But the key to a successful backyard chicken farming is the adoption of know-how on raising these chicken from a small number of animals to ensure one really gets to learn the rudiments of raising them.

” The objective should first be food on the table,” said Cruz.

For a family of four or five, 20 to 40 heads may be enough for the initial try. Aside from requiring a small capital, this size is easier to manage.

“If you’re looking for a livelihood component of a program, this is the cheapest cost,” said Cruz. The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have tied up to implement a livelihood program on this chicken in a northern Luzon province.

This involved a total of 400 pieces for 20 houses at 20 per house.

“This can be a cash crop for DENR (long-gestating) forestry projects,” he said, explaining foresters can already make money while waiting for forest trees to become harvestable. This backyard program is being adopted by local government units (LGU) like in Bukidnon which can use its excess corn profitably by feeding backyard chickens. There are farmers in Mindanao who put their chickens under their houses (silong).

For LGUs, this livelihood program is good for converting carbohydrates into proteins, literally from corn to meat.

After the first aim of simply putting food on the table, the time to shift to the second objective comes. That is skills efficiency, and then the third stage follows which is the semi-commercial operation.

Cruz, a diplomate of Philippine College of Poultry Practitioners, advises these stages have to be followed strictly. This is in order to give farmers an ample time to acquire the know-how since he has seen over 11 years of experience that many who have tried raising foreign-bred organic chickens have failed to sustain their operations.

There are presently several breeder farms of Grimaud Freres in the country– those of Villegas, another in Antipolo, one in Cavite, and Grimaud is looking for entrepreneurs hoping to put up a breeder farm in Visayas and Mindanao.

Villegas’s breeder farm offers a good business opportunity. The farm has 500 female breeders and 100 male which produce 1,200 to 2,000 (DOC) weekly.

These are sold at P35 to P40 per DOC while the farm pays P1.50 per hatching of each egg at an outside hatchery farm. These chickens can lay 320 times a year.

To maximize Grimaud Freres chicken raising, Cruz believes certain guidelines should be followed. One is F1s or the product of breeders should only be used for meat and not be used as breeders or else DOC production will be poor.

Breedership should only be started small at 250 to 500 head level.

Nutrition for the chicken should come from high quality feed—natural feed, with less antibiotics and chemicals. And the birds should be grown in correct farm housing and equipment. There is a standardized feed with an input of sili and oregano, watermelon, and banana.

There is a standardized system for housing, called a condo nest, that can be duplicated. This why there is a uniform weight too for the DOC which is 45 grams. The Villegas farm does not sell it at less than 30 grams to ensure quality. There is less medication and more herbal treatment.

These chickens have an herbal regimen, or are considered pre-herbed chicken. With this, they become free from carcinogens. Their immune system is stronger with intake of herbs like sili and oregano. They have genetic resistance to disease which makes them also healthier to eat.